Some women are fortunate enough to develop and hone their personal style from a very early age. They know what they like, and they stick with it. Some of us flounder a bit more, not trusting when a certain style or garment speaks to us, perhaps because someone in whom we’ve vested authority steered us in another direction or perhaps because we’re not yet confident enough to march to our inner beat when it goes against current wisdom. We launch ourselves on one style odyssey after another.
But like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who realizes only after her lengthy travails that she’s had the power to go home all along, I’ve come to realize that while my innate style sense has been trying to guide me, I’ve often been allowing various style blogs and InStyle and How To Not Look Old and Sex & the City and a plethora of books and articles on how to have _______ style (trend du jour, fill in the blank) to overpower that inner voice. I’ve often searched for my style somewhere over the rainbow, when it’s been right there with me the whole time.
“Classic With a Twist” is my Kansas. The pieces that still most make my heart go pitter-pat are simple, elegant and iconic: a strand (or three) of pearls, a great jacket, well-tailored pants, a cashmere sweater, a classic bag, a silk scarf. But I also need to mix in quirky, slightly edgy elements to keep the whole from looking and feeling too “done” and stodgy. (Emily Gilmore, Society Matron™, pictured at left, is not the look I’m aiming for!) My comfort zone is also a bit more covered up than modern norms; I’ve never felt right in tight, flashy, skin-exposing ensembles, not even in my clubbing twenties. (And I get cold!) I’ve always gravitated to Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn as style icons while my friends were swooning over Madonna’s latest look. Owning my style has been a slow and shaky process; fear of being dismissed as drab, boring, or matronly has made me hesitant to fully embrace my classic sartorial inclinations.
And despite my lifelong love of elegant and beautiful clothing, much of what constitutes Fashion these days (with some exceptions, bien sur) just leaves me cold. Very little of what I see from runway coverage or fashion pages or even in designer boutiques inspires or generates desire. Sure, age (and attendant wisdom, hopefully?) is part of it, but so much of the fashion game seems to be about celebrity red carpet looks, edginess and exposure and those have never been inherently part of my style. Still, I often admire women who are able to pull off more fashion forward looks beautifully and organically, even when I know the same looks aren’t right for me. Inspiration should only lead to emulation when there’s alignment with our inner sense of style, those little clicks of “ahhh, yes!”
What about you? Are you at home with your style, or do you periodically travel down the Yellow Brick Road of fashion? Are there influences in your life that prevent you from owning your style? Or are you still on a search to find it?
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